Tuesday, December 27, 2011

a vocation or a job?

a call or an invitation?

These questions are perculating these days as I ponder some of what I've been reading lately.

There seems to be such a dis-connect between all this as I think and ponder and wonder about what I'm doing and why....

an invitation seems so much more..... inviting than a "call"
a "vocation" seems so much more..... appealing than a "job".

Could it be that the ministry of spiritual direction could be just that? an invitation and a vocation? what would this as a vocation look like? Is there a place for me in this? if so, where?

I am thankful to have these few weeks over the Christmas break to take time to reflect, journal, read books that aren't part of the required reading list... to allow some of what I have read to simmer and percolate... I don't know that I'll get any answers anytime soon, but I do hope that these weeks will allow for some quiet reflection and contemplation and most of all, allow me to get some rest and get re-balanced.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I made this card this afternoon. I needed to make a fall-themed card and while this may not appear to meet the requirements, it'll have to do. It's reflective of what I'm thinking today. I remember walking along the beach when we spent a few days on the Oregon coast. While that is a few years ago already, it was a time that was perfect for quiet reflection. Miles and miles of sand. The water, relentless. I remember walking along the sand and allowing my mind to wander in its reflections.

With that in mind, I allowed my thoughts to reflect a little today. The service today was amazing. A full service of hymns - that brought me to tears. How is it that I can sing of what God has done for me but then am reduced to tears when we sing,

When Christ shall come
With Shouts of acclamation
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"

But then I find myself embraced as a friend who sees my struggle and comes to stand with me.

I am grateful. I am deeply grateful. Regardless of how I feel most days, there are still some truths that remain and are foundational to who I am: God is. God loves. God forgives.

I am grateful. I am deeply grateful. I have friends who believe in me and they are not afraid to speak words of encouragement when I am struggling to carry on with the things to which I believe I have been called.

I am grateful. I am deeply grateful. I have family who love and walk alongside, caring in their own ways.

Today I am reminded of all this. . . and I am grateful. I am deeply grateful

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a better perspective gained

after church today.

Abraham was tested. Genesis 22. He's tested first in the area of his faith. Then, his affections. and then his love. Yet he came out tested and true.

Faith: do I allow God to be the One in whom I still place all my trust and confidence?

Affections: Is God worthy of my worship even if I have to give up the most treasured and prized possessions - that which is dearest to me?

Love: God asks, "How important am I to you?" Is there anything that has come between me and God? is there anything that is taking God's #1 place in my life?

I think I have some work to do.

It's too easy to sit back and feel sorry for myself. I don't want to live like that.

I want to live in confidence and trust.
I want to worship Him freely and without reservation.
I want love Him with such abandon that He becomes the object of my affection.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

am I walking alone...

on this journey? There are certainly many days when it sure feels like it.

I recently returned from visiting my brother in Anchorage. It was great. I loved it. The scenery is beyond description.

I could have sat in their living room gazing out the window for hours and hours and hours.

Yet in the midst of all that stunning beauty, there lay an emptiness.

I knew Florian would have absolutely loved to have been there too. So many times I wanted to show him the beauty I was experiencing. But he wasn't there. I felt alone.

How could I feel alone? I was with my brother. We spent hours and hours and hours talking about things that matter. What it means to be content. How to face an uncertain future without anxiety. He showed and taught me how to carve wood - I carved my first wood spirit under his instruction. It was good. I felt so very accepted. I wasn't alone. We were two siblings spending precious days together.

I came home. The house is quiet. I've spent hours and hours and hours in quiet contemplation. I feel alone. Wait. Never mind feeling alone, I am alone. Nonetheless, I don't want to have a house full of people just to fill the empty rooms - just so that I'm not alone.

I think back to some of the conversations from these past two weeks.

How to be content?

I think it begins with trust. I need to remind my head & my heart that God is still trustworthy. He is still faithful. He is still in control. He knows what lies ahead. He waits for me to come to Him.

Do I believe Him? Will I trust Him?

I may feel alone, but He walks with me.

That means, I am never alone.

Knowing that, can I be content?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'd rather. . .

have to change the oil in my car or clean the furnace filter.
I will have to admit that based on my recent experience with changing the air filter there may be those who would beg to differ on that as well!!

But that's a whole 'nuther story!

Tonight, I was going to toast some raisin bread for dinner... got distracted looking at the writing assignment due next month and start smelling smoke... something obviously went haywire...

Came to the kitchen to find smoke billowing out from the toaster oven!! Yikes.
I ran it outside and then grabbed a towel to fan the smoke detector so it wouldn't go off. Fortunately, I managed to keep the smoke away long enough to grab the little fan I had sitting in the hallway. Turned it on - much easier to blow the smoke back towards the kitchen that way. Once the air was cleared somewhat, I moved the fan into the kitchen area. oy.

Disaster averted.
Alarm didn't go off.
Friendly firemen didn't have to pay a visit.

This all seems so silly. I never dreamed that these are the kinds of things that I would have to deal with... Maybe I need to seriously consider cold cereal for dinner or protein shakes and smoothies... at least there would be no risk of fire with those!!!

so, just where do I start? Will someone please hand me that wrench?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

it's been 8 months. . .

since Florian left us. In so many ways it feels like just the other day... and yet it also feels a lifetime ago. If I think about what's ahead 8 months from now, that puts us into March. That's a long time down the road...

So much has happened and I've had to deal with so very much. It's not always been easy. In fact, the last few months have been unbelievably hard.

I've just come through another one of life's major milestones - the marriage of my 2nd oldest. It was a beautiful celebration and I am so deeply grateful. I believe that God was honoured and that brings incredible peace & joy.

I'm grateful to have friends & family who helped keep things in perspective - who helped me figure things out. Things like what is worth fighting for... you know how it's about picking your battles? Well, there certainly were many opportunities these last months for that!! All the while, they were there lending their support... letting me know that they cared... letting me know that I wasn't alone - they were there, standing in the trenches alongside. I am so blessed and grateful for these dear ones.

I'm grateful for the moments during the celebration when we were able to honour Florian. The lighting of the candle at the start of the ceremony - Chris stopped at the table and lit it before taking his place on the platform. In his opening remarks, the pastor explained that it was lit to pay tribute to the groom's dad. And then the tribute paid in memory of Florian - a toast given by the bride's father - what a great gesture on their part. I didn't expect it but I sure appreciated it. Both were especially meaningful for me.

As I think about the whole day, I know that God graced us with His presence - and what greater gift could I ask for? I had prayed that the entire celebration would be honouring to Him and tried to ensure that I came to it also with an attitude that would be pleasing & honouring to Him. I encouraged the couple to do likewise. And in the end, it was a great day. Not only did I survive, but I think I can honestly say that I 'did good'. It certainly wasn't about me and what I was able to do. It was only because of His strength and the prayers of many who were praying for me that I was able to hold out with joy and graciousness. I am humbly grateful. To God be all the glory.

Monday, June 13, 2011

speechlessly blessed...

My dear brother, who has invited me to visit this summer, just crafted a tool for me. This in anticipation of our time together.... I am rendered speechless.

Monday, May 30, 2011

it's overwhelming. . .

and like one of my children wrote, there are days when I want to wake up and realize this has all been a dream.

Yet in the midst of everything, there are rays of hope that make their way through - shafts of light that speak of hope, shedding light on my path, enabling me to take the next step. I am ever so grateful for God's guiding hand as I've navigated my way through territory completely foreign to me.

shafts of light that come as:
- thoughts to wait with some tasks so that other things still work
- thoughts that come in the middle of the night bringing to mind obscure things that need to be looked after
- friends who remember
- friends who remind me of some of Florian's quirkiness
- worship songs that speak of God's mercies that are new every morning and of His faithfulness
- lyrics that stay with me through the week
- choir concerts that uplift and are a "feast for the soul"

Sometimes it's dark in here with no shafts of light to be seen.
Sometimes it just takes my eyes a little time to adjust.

Friday, April 29, 2011

feeling stuck...

I don't know that this will be a well-connected, thought-out entry but there are some thoughts and new insights that I don't want to forget. This seems as good a place as any to record some of them.

First of all, I will admit that the last while I have felt "stuck". Stuck in a grieving process with no idea how to proceed or how to get "un-stuck". I was quite miserable. I have been missing Florian tremendously - more now than 3 months ago. It would be easy to chalk it up to simple things like moving beyond the intense focus on getting all the financial stuff figured out or issues arising from wedding planning and no one to talk to about them or our son's graduation - an event that we celebrated without Florian. Whatever the reason, the last weeks have been hard. So much so that I have felt tears lurking just beneath the surface ready to gush at the least provocation and I was getting tired of just being so very tired.

In a moment of complete exhaustion and depleted inner resources, I made an appointment to visit my most trusted friend and counselor. I had a few things that I was "processing" that I wished to discuss. Little did I realize that our hour together would provide such incredible insights.

I learned that there is a process that I can evoke whenever I'm feeling down and sad. It's a process that encourages a little digging - asking a few deeper questions - to discover the "root" of what I'm feeling. It goes a little like this: I'm missing Florian. What is it about not having him near that you are missing? I miss talking to him. What is it about conversing with him that you are missing? He was my biggest cheerleader & support. What is it about his support that you miss? and then I can begin to pinpoint something a little more definitive about the loss...

I tried it out the other day - and I was surprised at the difference it made. I was given the tools I needed to dig a little deeper - to explore what I was feeling - to come to terms with some truths - and then it didn't feel quite so heavy a burden anymore. Oh, don't get me wrong. I didn't quit missing Florian, but there was a difference in what I was feeling or how I was feeling the loss.

I mentioned this to a sibling of mine with whom I've been having quite the conversations and the response was this: "Explore the emotion to it's deepest level - 'let it wash over you' - and find what the root is. Identify it, absorb it, and let it go." I think that's it!

A second bit that's been percolating the last few days is something that happened the next morning. I had gotten up early to do some homework.

As I was sitting at my kitchen table, making notes about some of what I was reading, there seemed to be a sense that washed over me. Like I was suddenly free. Free to move ahead. Free to pursue my dreams. Free to be OK. It was with me for only a fleeting moment and then it was gone, just as suddenly as it had appeared.

I don't know what that was all about. I think though that it may have something to do with a verse that my friend mentioned on Wednesday. Jesus said, "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32) Somehow, in facing the truth in my grief, there is a gift of freedom. I think that maybe, just maybe, it was that gift of freedom that I experienced sitting at the kitchen table yesterday morning. Having faced some of the truth of my grief the night before, God gave me an incredible gift of freedom that He allowed to wash over me, even if only for the briefest of moments.

If that's what it is, what can I do but thank Him for His deep love & care for me.

Monday, March 28, 2011


but not destroyed; perplexed... but not shaken

Tonight I shared my faith journey with my "cohort group". I wear the mantle passed to me by my husband - step by step I will carry on; I will carry the torch that will one day be passed to my by my father - to stay the course.

Many generations have gone before me; many have run their race and, keeping their eyes focused on the One who is the perfecter of faith , they finished their run. We don't know how long he will be with us, but my dad will one day be among those who have stayed the course to the very end. He will then join my dear husband in worship as they bow their knee and proclaim that Jesus is Lord & King.

a torch....

a mantle....

I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses ... my grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents... uncles... and aunts.... and more recently my husband....

Such vivid imagery as I press on towards the goal that is set before me. . . as I "stay the course", one step at a time. Yes, I am perplexed. Yes, I am crushed.

But God. . .

God is faithful. I will not be destroyed for He is faithful.
God is holding me. I am in His grip.

My soul will one day sing again - will sing the song that He will give and I will praise Him for His unending love.

How Great Thou Art.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

on prayer. . .

The last few weeks I have come across these verses several times in different contexts, "Come to me all who are weary; take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:29-30)

The literal translation of 'pray always' is 'come to rest'. The Greek word for 'rest' is hesychia. A hesychast is one who seeks solitude and silence as ways to unceasing prayer. The prayer of the hesychast is a prayer of rest - it has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain but rather is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.

Nouwen suggests that this kind of 'prayer of the heart' is not intellectual prayer (speaking to God, expecting answers and when we don't hear anything we begin to think of a monologue); it is also not just thinking about God (meditation) which may lead to new intellectual discoveries about God.

Rather, the prayer of the hesychast is one that takes us from our place of self-absorption to where it penetrates to the very marrow of our soul & leaves nothing untouched. It is prayer that does not allow us to limit our relationship with God to interesting words or pious emotions. (hmm... does this not sound like being careful with what we say & how much we say... perhaps a type of silence?) It opens our eyes to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God. It challenges us to hide absolutely nothing from God and to surrender ourselves unconditionally to His mercy.

At this point, this is now a prayer of truth. No longer are we trying to impress others with our well-worded prayers; no longer are we trying to convince ourselves of our worthiness or our self-righteousness.

I'm not quite sure how all this works but somehow, this kind of purity of heart allows us to see more clearly, not only our own needy, distorted and anxious self, but also the caring face of our compassionate God. Somehow, God's heart has become one with ours. Here we catch sight of the meaning of Jesus' words, "Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle & humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes my yoke is easy and my burden light". Jesus invites us to accept his burden which is the burden of the whole world; a burden that includes human suffering in all times & places. But this divine burden is light and we can carry it when our heart has been transformed into the gentle and humble heart of our Lord". (p. 87)

It is with this kind of vision that it is possible, then to move into the midst of our world with a heart at rest. And, it is this restful heart that becomes a magnet, attracting those who are groping to find their way through life.

"When we have found our rest in God, we can do nothing other than minister." In other words, out of our solitude and silence, our "being" becomes "doing".

This certainly has given me lots to think about these last few days... I know I haven't come to understand all I've encountered with those verses from Matthew - that needs some more 'thinking'...

until next time,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

on silence & solitude

I've been reading Henri Nouwen's book, "The Way of the Heart". The first section focuses on solitude and then he looks at silence. After that he talks about prayer.

I thought it strange at first - and then it hit me.

We need to be comfortable in solitude because it is in solitude that we face ourselves. No longer distracted by "doing", it becomes the place of purification and transformation; a place of great struggle and great encounter. This purifying and transforming process has as its result, great compassion. "In solitude, we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, envy are deeply anchored in our own heart. As a result, solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God's even greater mercy tat their life itself becomes ministry. In such a ministry there is hardly any difference left between doing & being."

On silence, he writes, "Silence guards the fire within; Silence teaches us to speak." It reminded me of the many times that I have "shared with others" those things that were on my mind only to come away feeling that I wasn't heard or that I lost something that was precious to me. We live in a world where we are afraid of, and uncomfortable with, silence. He suggests that "simply not speaking is a very important practice... it is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people wouldn't be better served by our silence than by our words".

Now that we've understood solitude and the importance of silence we turn our thoughts to prayer. Solitude is being alone with God. It is in our silence that we begin to listen to God. It is this context of solitude & silence within which prayer is practiced. More on that tomorrow. . .

Thursday, February 10, 2011

time passes. . .

and yet time seems to stand still.

In some ways the days and months have flown by incredibly quickly and I can hardly believe that it's been 3 months already since Florian passed away. Yet in other ways, it seems like it's been so very long already.

In some ways I still almost can't believe that he's really gone. Yet in other ways... well, I just miss him so much.

I've accomplished quite a few things on my own - working through internet issues - buying a new garage door opener - purchasing stuff from the 'geek' store - navigating my way through unfamiliar areas of the city (thanks to the GPS unit he bought me last fall :) )

Today I realized as I was driving home from the office that the busy-ness of dealing with all the immediate "stuff" is starting to come to an end... I'm a little afraid of this next stage as it means I'll have more time to think - more time to miss him...

I did some grocery shopping today - I still don't enjoy it, but it doesn't seem to be as bad as it was initially. You see, Florian did most of the grocery shopping for us - I would go with him on occasion, but he had a knack of remembering prices & where everything was. I'd sometimes call him at work asking where I would find some item that was eluding me and he could steer me not only to the right aisle, but also to the right location on the right shelf, describing the items that I would find around it...

He sure was quite the guy... I only wish God hadn't called him Home quite so soon...